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WFUV Pop Quiz: David Bromberg


Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist David Bromberg was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in Tarrytown, New York. He began playing the guitar when he was 13 years old and later enrolled in Columbia University as a musicology major. He got his real education in Greenwich Village, studying guitar with Reverend Gary Davis, and found himself in demand as a studio sideman for everyone from Bob Dylan to Carly Simon to The Eagles. He began releasing his own albums in the 1970's, but gave up performing in the '80s to learn violin making in Chicago. He returned to recording with his Try Me One More Time album, which was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award. Bromberg currently lives in Wilmington, Delaware, where he and his wife, artist Nancy Josephson, own a violin sales and repair shop.


Aside from gear, instruments or your band, you don't go on the road without...?

Without my cell phone, iPad, clean socks and underwear.

What song do you wish you've written?

Anything that Ray Charles has sung because he sang it.

Who would you like to record one of your songs, dead or alive?

Mavis Staples. I got one I'm going to send her.

What song would you sing in the shower but never in public?

There are old songs that we've learned in kindergarten and some of them are wonderful. "Oh My Darling, Clementine" is a hilarious song and "Drill Ye Terriers, Drill." I like those tunes.

What's the first album you bought?

I'm not sure. It was either a Muddy Waters album, Gary Davis album or a Pink Anderson album.

Someone finds your iPod and hits shuffle. Is there something that might come up that would really surprise them?

There's a lot on there that would surprise them. Two of my favorite records were on Nonesuch and one of them was called The Real Bahamas. Joe Spence is also on there but most of it is vocal music. I'm supposed to be an instrumentalist but my favorite music is more vocal. There's that and then there's also a wonderful Bulgarian state folk orchestra. I love it, and there's also the Pennywhistlers singing Eastern European things. Those might surprise somebody.

What's your favorite Bob Dylan Song?

"It Takes a lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry," at the moment.

What job would you have if you weren't a musician?

I'd be a violin expert.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I'm an Olympic sleeper. There are not many people who can sleep the way I can. I can sleep anywhere for pretty near as long as I want to.

Do you cook?

Only with a guitar.

What's the biggest misconception your fans or the media have about you?

I always used to badmouth my singing. Truthfully, I never thought that it was worse than, for example, Bruce Springsteen or somebody. I actually learned a lot about singing during the 22 years when I wasn't performing. The old rap that I put on myself is still out there. These days I really enjoy singing and I think I do a whole lot better.

What wacky thing would you do if you had the time, guts or resources?

Move to New York. I want to be back in Manhattan, so does my wife, we want to be back here. I need a lot of money to do that.